Simple advice for a better life.

Orysia and Mike in front of the Tetrapod and under the HuppahYou already are familiar with the different aspects of the Ukrainian and Jewish culture and traditions mentioned in the Ukrainian-Jewish wedding post, which  I shared with you previously.

Today, I will quote from the Wedding Ceremony Program booklet, prepared by the Bride and Groom, especially for their wedding, to give you a better understanding of the similarities between the Byzantine and the Jewish wedding ceremony traditions.

Expression of Free Will

In Byzantine Rite, a couple seeking to wed must proclaim their free entrance into the sacrament of matrimony prior to reaching the tetrapod, the small table at the front of the church upon which the Gospel and the Cross rest.  After affirming their free will, the couple then proceeds to the tetrapod together, symbolizing their shared desire to be united as husband and wife.

Similarly in the Jewish tradition, the wedding couple proceeds down the aisle together side by side as their expression of free will.

In the Jewish tradition, after the wedding couple meets at The Huppah, they circle each other three or seven times.  The number seven represents the number of days in which the world was created and the number of blessings that are recited during the ceremony.  The circling represents the walls of protection the wedding couple is building around each other and symbolizes the intertwined nature of their lives from this day forward.

In Byzantine tradition circling is done later on during the ceremony, and it takes place around the tetrapod.

Prayer of Betrothal/Kiddushin

The Prayer of Betrothal, the Prayer of Engagement, or Kiddushin, derives from an earlier time in which the engagement ceremony was a separate ceremony from the wedding.  This occurred with both the traditional Byzantine and Jewish weddings.

Today, the two parts are joined together in a single service with The Betrothal immediately preceding The Wedding. The Prayers of Betrothal ask God to bless the engagement of the Groom and Bride and the sanctification of a man and a woman to each other.

First Cup of Wine

During the traditional Jewish wedding, two cups of wine are drunk. The first is during the Kiddushin stemming from the word holiness, and symbolizing joy. The second is drunk later during the wedding ceremony, and after the Seven Blessings are recited.  This second cup symbolizes uniqueness and the sanctity of marriage.  The Kiddush cup used at this wedding belongs to the Groom’s father, and has been used many times over the years during Passover Sedars and dinners. Included in the blessing of this cup of wine is The Betrothal Blessing and Bircat Erusin.

The Exchange of Rings

In the  Byzantine Rite, the exchange of rings takes place during the Betrothal, as followed at  this wedding. The rings symbolize God’s union with the marrying couple, an unbroken circle representing a pure and eternal union.  The Priest is the one to first place the rings on the hands of the Groom and Bride.  The Priest only slides the ring halfway down the hand, so the Groom and Bride may affirm their commitment to each other by completing the placement of the ring.  Once exchanged, the rings serve as a visible symbol of the endless love and union that exists between husband and wife, and God.  The rings further remind the couple that in married life, the weakness of one partner will be compensated by the strength of the other, that by themselves the newly betrothed are incomplete, but together, and with the blessing of God, they compliment each other, and are complete.

In the Jewish tradition, this is the central act of the Kiddushin, where the husband “gives” the ring to the Bride who “accepts” it.  The husband would place the ring on the bride’s right index finger.  By taking the ring on her most active finger, the bride demonstrates that she accepts it not as a gift but as a binding transaction.  The bride would then reposition the ring on the finger and location of her choosing.

The Prayer of Union/Nissuin

Both the Byzantine and Jewish weddings have two distinct parts.  The first part is known as The Betrothal. In Byzantine weddings , The Prayer of Union, distinguishes this first part from the upcoming second part called The Wedding.  This Prayer recalls the origins and meaning of marriage.

This second half of the ceremony in Hebrew is called Nissuin, which literally translates as “marriage”

The Exchange of Vows

Prior to exchanging their vows, the Groom will place his hand on a prayer book used by his father, and the Bride will place her hand on the Gospel.  By doing this, they emphasize that their wedding is not strictly between them but also it is a promise to God.

In a traditional Jewish wedding, a Ketubah, or marriage contract, is signed.  The Ketubah outlines the rights, privileges, and obligations that the Groom and Bride assume toward each other as husband and wife.  An interfaith Ketubah will be signed today as symbol of the Groom and Bride’s commitment to each other.

The Crowning

The crowning in the Byzantine Rite is the pinnacle of The Wedding.  The wreaths symbolize an eternal circle, eternal life, unity, and oneness.  The wreaths are made of or myrtle.  Since myrtle is always green, it symbolizes that the marriage is eternally alive.  The wreaths are woven together symbolizing the lives of the Groom and Bride are now woven together, starting at the marriage, into something new.

During crowning, the Priest places the wreaths upon the heads of the Groom and Bride, to signify that they are the King and Queen of their new kingdom – their new life together.  Accepting the crowns, the couple promises to live a life of honor and love in God.

In the  Jewish tradition, the Bride is considered to be the Queen, and the Groom to be a King, as written in Psalms(45:10): “The queen stand on your right hand in fine gold of Ophir.” The “fine gold” refers to a wedding band which was traditionally made out of gold.  And like this Psalm, the Groom and Bride will leave the church with the Bride on Groom’s right side.

Bestowal of Candles

The Priest hands the Groom and Bride each a candle to hold.  The candles symbolize God’s light in the world.  The Priest will punctuate this by blessing Groom and Bride with the signing of the cross.

Sharing the Common Cup

In remembrance of Christ’s first miracle a the wedding at Cana, Groom and Bride share a wine from a common cup.  The wine symbolizes the sweetness of God’s love.  By drinking the wine, Groom and Bride acknowledge their intention to share everything in life, and bear one another’s burdens.  “Their joys will be doubled, and their sorrows halved, because they will be shared.”  This cup of wine will be drunk after The Seven Blessings are recited.

The Seven Blessings (Sheva Brachot)

The Seven Blessings celebrate the creation of the world, Israel and the Jewish people, and Groom and Bride’s happiness together.  After the blessings, Groom and Bride will drink the second cup of wine in celebration of the blessings of The Common Cup, and for the Seven Blessings.

These Seven Blessings locate the Groom and Bride under the Huppah within the whole flow of Jewish history and theology including creation, Eden, Zion, redemption, and Jerusalem. The wedding becomes a fulcrum of time defining the center point between creation and redemption. All three of these “moments” -the beginning, the wedding, and the end, all share the same wholeness, sweetness, and the unambiguous presence of  God.  Judaism has no concept of individual redemption; we will each find Eden only when all human beings find Eden.  The Sheva Brachot beneath The Huppah provides a glimpse into that redeemed, peace-filled, love-blessed place and time.

The Ceremonial Walk

The ceremonial walk, also called the “Dance of Isaiah”, celebrates the first steps of the young couple as husband and wife. The Priest binds the right hands of the Groom and Bride with a ceremonial towel, known as “rushnyk”. Led by God in the person of the Priest, Groom and Bride then walk around the tetrapod three times.  These three circles symbolize the unending journey of husband and wife guided by  God.  This also symbolizes the circling that is traditionally done in the Jewish wedding when the Groom and Bride first enter the Huppah.

The Removal of The Crowns

The Priest removes the crowns/wreaths, blessing the newlywed couple.

Blessing of the Newlywed Couple

The Priest bestows a culminatory blessing upon Groom and Bride.

Churching of The Newlyweded Bride and Ave Maria

As Ave Maria is sung, the Bride walks over to the icon of the Virgin Mary. The Bride offers The Mother Of God a gift of flowers, thanking her for the Bride’s husband.  Then the Priest says a special prayer just for the Bride.

Breaking of the Glass

At the end of the ceremony, the Groom will step on a glass, breaking it.  This Jewish custom dates back to the writing of the Talmud, a holy Jewish text, and there are many different meanings and symbolism regarding it.

A bittersweet explanation is that even on this joyous occasion, we cannot forget the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, and must be mindful that there is still destruction, war, and hatred in our world. It’ s our responsibility to help bring healing, and the breaking of the glass is at this time an expression of hope for a future free of all violence.

A more personal explanation is that the breaking of the glass reminds us that like the glass, human relationships are fragile, maintaining marriage requires great care, and the hope for a marriage that will never break.

A more whimsical interpretation is that this is the last time the Groom gets to “put his foot down”.

The meaning that we like the most is that this marriage can only be dissolved when all the pieces of glass are glued back together, meaning never!

When the Groom breaks the glass, everyone shouts “Mazel Tov”, which means Congratulations!!

Iconostas, Tetrapod and HuppahI have been sharing lots of wedding posts with you this year.

You already learned about the Ukrainian wedding traditionsHindu wedding traditions, Ukrainian- Greek wedding traditions, and now I will share my reflections from a Ukrainian-Jewish wedding.

My husband and I were looking forward to this particular wedding, since the invitation was from our long time friends, and the traditions were intertwined with Ukrainian and Jewish cultures.

The church ceremony took place at a Ukrainian Catholic Church, with all the usual Ukrainian traditions of the Bride and Groom wearing periwinkle/myrtle wreaths on their heads during the crowning ceremony.

Also standing on on embroidered scarf (rushnyk) in front of the Tetrapod.

Being lead by be priest three times around the Tetrapod, for the Ceremonial Walk.

Sharing the Common Cup, which for this wedding was the cup used by Groom’s father during Passover Seder, and other family dinners.

Also, the Ave Maria was sang by a soloist, while the Bride prayed at the altar of Virgin Mary, asking for a blessing of fertility, and being thankful for her husband.

Orysia and Mike in front of the Tetrapod and under the Huppah

This ceremony also included a Jewish wedding tradition, the presence of the Huppah (also known as Chuppah), which consists of a beautiful lace canopy suspended from 4 decorative posts.   The Bride and Groom were standing on a Ukrainian embroidered scarf (rushnyk), under the Huppah, throughout the wedding ceremony.

Once the Bride and Groom were pronounced as husband and wife, a Jewish tradition of the glass breaking ceremony took place.  A wine glass, wrapped in a white cloth napkin, was placed on the floor in front of the Groom, to step on and to crush.  It is a symbol of  their strong marriage bond, and the shattered glass signifies the many pieces needed to make one whole, successful relationship and marriage, which can only be dissolved if all the glass pieces can be glued back together again (which is never).

Another significant part of a Ukrainian wedding is the greeting of the Bride and Groom with wine, bread, and salt, by their parents.

Wedding Halla Bread

At this wedding, this tradition was observed as well, but there also was a special chant and greeting of the Bride and Groom, and all the guests, by the Father of the Groom, with a traditional Jewish bread, the Challah, which then was cut up, and served to the family and guests.

The reception began with the Bride and Groom sitting on chairs, which were lifted up high into the air, above everyone else, and the traditional Jewish folk dance, Hava Nagila, was carried out by the wedding party, and family and friends of the Bride and the Groom.

This dance was followed by the Ukrainian Kolomeyka, a traditional Ukrainian dance, which also engages everyone to either watch the performers, or to participate and show off their own dance talent.

Mother of the Bride will exchange the veil with a babushka scarf Exchanging the veil for a babushka scarf

The Bride also selected to  follow the traditional Ukrainian exchange of the veil with the “babushka” scarf, which is done by her mother, to signify that her daughter is no longer a single lady, but rather a married woman.

Wedding Cake - O and M

As a final touch, or “icing on the cake” to this wedding post, I am sharing a picture of their Wedding Cake, which, as you will agree, was absolutely gorgeous, and tasted totally decadent.

If you would like to learn more about the symbolic meanings of the different parts of this wedding ceremony, please read the next post, which mirrors side by side, the Byzantine Rite and the Jewish traditions, as presented in the wedding ceremony program booklet, prepared by the Bride and Groom, and passed out to everyone at the church ceremony.

Geeting Bread, Korovai, and Wedding CakeLast year I posted pictures of Korovai and Wedding Cakes from weddings I have attended, and promised to do the same from all future weddings I will attend.

I had the pleasure of attending three weddings this year, and will share some of the special traditions and pictures from each of these weddings.

Today I will share my stories and pictures from a Ukrainian-Greek wedding, my husband and I attended, which took place at St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church, in Toronto, Canada.

St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

This wedding was very special to us, since the daughter of our long time friend was getting married, and also because the wedding ceremony was taking place in the same church as the filming of the, the ever so popular movie, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”.

Ikonostas at St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church, Toronto, Canada Chandlier and upper level of St.Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church in Toronto, Canada

The church ceremony was traditional Ukrainian, which is very similar to the Greek tradition as well, since Ukrainians accepted Christianity from Constantinople in 988.

Reception Banquet Hall - Toronto, Canada Centerpiece from J & Y wedding

The reception took place in a very tastefully decorated banquet hall, with delicious food, and exquisite Venetian Hour.

It began with the traditional Ukrainian bread, wine and salt greeting of the newlyweds, by their parents.

Greeting Bread for the Bride and Groom

The Bride and Groom also followed a Greek traditional game of guessing who will be the “boss” in their household.  They stood side by side, slightly apart, each held one end of a loaf of bread (Challah loaf) with one hand, and tried to pulled it away from each other.  The person who ended up with the larger portion of the bread in their hand, will play the dominant role in the family.

I will not disclose who the winner was (Bride or Groom), but am encouraging you to leave your guesses in the comment section, and I will reveal the answer to the 10th commenter.

The wedding fun picked up with the traditional Greek Dance, a line dance similar to the Italian Tarantella, or the Jewish Hava Nagila, and the fun kept on escalating as the reception continued.

The Vail dance with Babushka scarf

The Bride also chose to incorporate a Ukrainian tradition of exchanging her veil for a head scarf (babushka).

This tradition takes place toward the end of the wedding reception.  The Bride is seated on a chair in the middle of the dance floor.  Her mother takes the white veil off her daughter’s head, and replaces it with a white flowered head scarf, while special songs are being sung by a chorus of ladies.  The veil is then passed around, and worn by singles ladies who takes turns to dance with the Groom.  The Bride engages in a dance known as “veil dance”, as the guests line up to dance with the Bride, offer money for the dance, and are served a cordial drink.

Korovai for J & Y

Another tradition present at almost every Ukrainian wedding, is the gorgeous bread called Korovai, which is basically a gift to the Bride and Groom, by the Bride’s mother.  The Korovai symbolizes love, prosperity, and fertility wished upon the Newlyweds.

Wedding Cake - J & Y

At last, here is the very traditional part of every wedding in United States, and obviously Canada – The Wedding Cake.

This Bride and Groom selected Peacock as their wedding theme, hence also reflected on their wedding cake.  The Peacock on this cake was created from sugar. Each feather was made separately, and individually hand painted before being attached to the cake to crate this beautiful display of the full view of the Peacock.

The artwork was stunning, and the cake was decadent.

Suburbangrandma Goes Urban

We had a very busy summer this year, full of long distance traveling, and it’s not over yet.

We attended girl baby shower, a boy baby shower, couple of wedding showers, plus few weddings, and other family functions.

At least this year the gasoline prices were much lower than 2 years ago…lucky for us, and all the other travelers.

You already have seen many pictures of my suburban gardening, flowers, and snow, so here are some of my pictures from the trips:

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:

Museum of Art - Philladelphia, PA

Monument in Philadelpia

Washington, DC:


Capitol Building in Washington, DC

Monument of Tarasa Shevchenko - Ukrainian poetMonument of George Washington


New York City:


Williamsburg bridge - NYC

Ground Zero, NYC

View 1 of NYC from Empire State Building

View 2 of NYC from Empire State Building

View 3 of NYC from Empire State Building

Toronto, Ontario, Canada:


St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Toronto, Canada

We really enjoyed the events we attended in these cities, as well as the site seeing.

I love watching the busy city life, and admire the convenience, but I enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of the suburbs.

Right To Let It Hang

USREPORT-US-USA-LAUNDRYI have recently shared a post with you about saving money on creative ways of taking care of your laundry.

One of the suggestions was to use an outdoor clothes line for drying your laundry.  I just located an article on the same subject, and want to share a short summary.

As I already mentioned previously, hanging out your laundry is not always welcomed by neighbors, or even against the rules in some neighborhoods.

The enclosed picture is by:

Reuters – Jon Hurdle – Wed Nov 18, 11:32 am ET – Carin Froehlich has help from her granddaughter Ava as they hang some laundry in the front yard of her …

Carin Froehlich, a resident of Perkasie, Pennsylvania, lives in an 18th century farmhouse and enjoys drying her clothing on outdoors clothes lines.

She even states that line-drying laundry for a family of  five, will save $83 on electric bills, per month!

Hanging out your laundry outdoors sounds like a normal thing to do for most of you, but not for Carin’s neighbors and many associations of communities in Pennsylvania and many other states.

There are actual rules made by these Home Owner Associations, which prevent their residents from hanging out laundry, and there are fines associated with it.

Kevin Firth, who owns a two-bedroom condominium in a Dublin, Pennsylvania housing association, said he was fined $100 by the association for putting up a clothesline in a common area.
“It made me angry and upset,” said Firth, a 27-year-old carpenter. “I like having the laundry drying in the sun. It’s something I have always done since I was a little kid.”

Many people feel that these type of restrictions violate their freedom,  and do not support the act of saving energy and protecting the environment.

If you are one of these residents who are facing these issues, but want to make a difference and need some support, please read this:

Their interests are represented by Project Laundry List, a group that argues people can save money and reduce carbon emissions by not using their electric or gas dryers, according to the group’s executive director, Alexander Lee.
Widespread adoption of clotheslines could significantly reduce U.S. energy consumption, argued Lee, who said dryer use accounts for about 6 percent of U.S. residential electricity use.
Florida, Utah, Maine, Vermont, Colorado, and Hawaii have passed laws restricting the rights of local authorities to stop residents using clotheslines. Another five states are considering similar measures, said Lee, 35, a former lawyer who quit to run the non-profit group.

Who would have thought that such a simple task, as air-drying your laundry, could become an national dilemma.

TIP: Since the link to the original article has expired, I am pasting the full article below, if you are interested in reading it in its original form.

PERKASIE, Pennsylvania (Reuters) – Carin Froehlich pegs her laundry to three clotheslines strung between trees outside her 18th-century farmhouse, knowing that her actions annoy local officials who have asked her to stop.
Froehlich is among the growing number of people across America fighting for the right to dry their laundry outside against a rising tide of housing associations who oppose the practice despite its energy-saving green appeal.
Although there are no formal laws in this southeast Pennsylvania town against drying laundry outside, a town official called Froehlich to ask her to stop drying clothes in the sun. And she received two anonymous notes from neighbors saying they did not want to see her underwear flapping about.
“They said it made the place look like trailer trash,” she said, in her yard across the street from a row of neat, suburban houses. “They said they didn’t want to look at my ‘unmentionables.’”
Froehlich says she hangs her underwear inside. The effervescent 54-year-old is one of a growing number of Americans demanding the right to dry laundry on clotheslines despite local rules and a culture that frowns on it.
Their interests are represented by Project Laundry List, a group that argues people can save money and reduce carbon emissions by not using their electric or gas dryers, according to the group’s executive director, Alexander Lee.
Widespread adoption of clotheslines could significantly reduce U.S. energy consumption, argued Lee, who said dryer use accounts for about 6 percent of U.S. residential electricity use.
Florida, Utah, Maine, Vermont, Colorado, and Hawaii have passed laws restricting the rights of local authorities to stop residents using clotheslines. Another five states are considering similar measures, said Lee, 35, a former lawyer who quit to run the non-profit group.
‘RIGHT TO HANG’
His principal opponents are the housing associations such as condominiums and townhouse communities that are home to an estimated 60 million Americans, or about 20 percent of the population. About half of those organizations have ‘no hanging’ rules, Lee said, and enforce them with fines.
Carl Weiner, a lawyer for about 50 homeowners associations in suburban Philadelphia, said the no-hanging rules are usually included by the communities’ developers along with regulations such as a ban on sheds or commercial vehicles.
The no-hanging rules are an aesthetic issue, Weiner said.
“The consensus in most communities is that people don’t want to see everybody else’s laundry.”
He said opposition to clotheslines may ease as more people understand it can save energy and reduce greenhouse gases.
“There is more awareness of impact on the environment,” he said. “I would not be surprised to see people questioning these restrictions.”
For Froehlich, the “right to hang” is the embodiment of the American tradition of freedom.
“If my husband has a right to have guns in the house, I have a right to hang laundry,” said Froehlich, who is writing a book on the subject.
Besides, it saves money. Line-drying laundry for a family of five saves $83 a month in electric bills, she said.
Kevin Firth, who owns a two-bedroom condominium in a Dublin, Pennsylvania housing association, said he was fined $100 by the association for putting up a clothesline in a common area.
“It made me angry and upset,” said Firth, a 27-year-old carpenter. “I like having the laundry drying in the sun. It’s something I have always done since I was a little kid.”
(Editing by Mark Egan and Paul Simao)

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